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Here are the Four Best Ways to Manage Risks When Traveling Overseas
Travel Risk Management Program involves hoping for the best but preparing for the worst
This article was published in the Q1 2007 issue of Aon One, March 2007.
Conducting business abroad has always presented a significant challenge to travelers. The tragic events of 9/11 and the ever-growing threat of terrorism and kidnapping have only added to this challenge. Political instability in certain regions of the world has forced companies to take a hard look at ways to protect their operations and personnel.
Thanks to the media, foreign travelers are often aware of terrorist activities throughout the world. For example, intense press coverage of the alleged British airliner-bombing conspiracy no doubt gave many travelers pause. But, in reality, a business traveler is far more likely to experience incidents of street crime, kidnapping, and health and safety issues than sensational terrorist events.
Preparing a Travel Risk Management Program
Whether it is terrorist activities or crimes such as kidnapping and theft, an appropriate travel risk management program can help organizations prepare for and mitigate damage in the event of such an emergency.
However, travel risk management is more than simply being aware of "hotbeds" of threatening activity. A holistic travel risk management program should include the following:
- Travel evaluation process. In the initial stage of the travel risk management process, the company's security director or risk manager generally conducts threat assessments on all higher-risk travel itineraries.
Threats fall into a number of categories, the two most important being health and safety and security. An effective intelligence operation should provide Country Security Assessment Ratings (CSARs) to quickly identify higher-risk locations and to provide threat analyses for travelers, as a core capability. There are a handful of private firms that can provide CSARs, such as iJET Intelligent Risk Systems or Control Risks.
Other threats can disrupt or ruin a business trip, so business travelers should be aware of the local laws, culture, and entry/exit and customs requirements.
- Awareness training. As a minimum requirement, each global traveler should have a basic level of travel health and safety training. This training educates the traveler and helps protect the company.
Depending on the locations to be visited, the business traveler may require additional training around high-risk environments, such as kidnap avoidance, information security, defensive driving and surveillance detection. In addition, all business travelers should be briefed on emergency plans and given key contact information in the event that they encounter any difficulty.
- Real-time employee monitoring. Once a threat analysis has been conducted, a designated travel coordinator should e-mail intelligence updates to business travelers while they are in country. Travelers should be alerted to potential problems such as civil disturbances or other activities that could disrupt business.
At this stage, formal escalation and notification protocols should be in place to activate key personnel. This should be a fully integrated operation to handle any difficulties travelers may encounter, such as incidents involving security, medical or legal emergencies.
- Contingency plans. The travel coordinator should have the appropriate resources ready to respond in the event of an emergency, such as a need for evacuation, medical emergency or imprisonment of the traveler.
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